Hi it’s Fiona here,
Paul and I are just back from 7 days hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania. We were planning to finish the rest of the Australian Alps Walking track from Mt. Hotham to Walhalla, but a couple of days before we were due to leave, some very large bushfires started in the area we were due to walk through. We had everything arranged: transport to the start of the hike and from the finish, all maps, but with the fires growing larger we decided to change our plans.
Paul’s sister had just walked the Overland Track a few weeks ago. It’s a walk that is particularly famous in Australia and she had all the maps and information we would need. A quick check of the discount airlines and we had some cheap flights, a visit to a few websites found us some overnight accommodation in Launceston, a bus ride and a permit purchased to walk the track.
About the Overland Track
It’s about 65 kilometres long through the Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair National Parks in Tasmania’s World Heritage listed Wilderness Area. Many people ask us if we have done the Overland Track and we had never considered it before, usually because of ignorance on our behalf as to what the walk involved, a belief that it was very crowded and that getting there was expensive and logistically difficult as it’s a one way walk. Anyway, we were pleasantly surprised on all counts. www.overlandtrack.com.au has lots of information about the walk, including links to the different companies that offer shuttle services. I guess the walk is popular because it takes you through very spectacular, and ever-changing sceneries. You go through grasslands, alpine regions, rainforests and temperate forests.
We started near Dove Lake and spent a leisurely day climbing to a lookout over the lake and climbing Cradle Mountain, before camping at Waterfall hut. The next day we backtracked around the other side of Cradle Mountain, back around Dove Lake and then climbed Barn Bluff in the afternoon. With the weather still hot the next day, we walked to Pelion hut, which is about half way along the track. This was the end of the hot weather, because it started raining the day after that. But not to be discouraged, we decided we’d still climb up Mount Ossa anyway – at an altitude of only 1617 metres (5305 feet), it’s Tasmania’s tallest mountain. But despite its seemingly low height, the weather can get pretty impressive. We were amazed to be tackling howling winds and snow battering in sideways at us – all in the Australian summer!
Obviously we survived and that turned out to be our only day of bad weather. We continued on to Kia Ora hut, and then up to Pine Valley. If anyone is thinking of going there, this area is a must-see. The walk in sees you beneath an amazing moss-covered forest and the climb up The Acropolis was incredible. We spent a long time up the top absorbing the landscape that stretched out around us and admiring the rock formations shaped like columns.
The last section saw us walking around the incredible Lake St Clair. We managed to arrive at the visitor centre here just as it started to rain heavily again.
The Overland is a very social walk to do. Only 30 independatnt walkers are allowed to start the track each day and because we kept doing lots of side-tracks, we kept oscillating between two different groups. It was great meeting a whole range of interesting people out there – all ages and many nationalities, some on their first hiking trip, others viewing it as a must-do when touring Australia, while others were returning to the area from many previous visits. We even met some girls that were doing some hiking there as part of their training for one of their first mountaineering attempts – Mount Kilimanjaro. Good luck if this gets to you before you go!
We saw a lot of wildlife on this trip – 5 snakes (which is amazing when from all our other hiking we’ve ever done, we’ve only seen 3 snakes previously), lots of wallabies, wombats, pademelons (first time we’ve come across these but the seem to be a cross between a wallaby and a possum), and an echidna. There were even sightings of platypus – which is very rare.
Most of all, it was great to be out walking again. Switching off and getting back to the simple things in life – like how I’m going to trick Paul so that I can eat most of the chocolate!
We flew straight home on Thursday night feeling very sorry for the people sitting near us on the flight (7 days in the same clothes is not pretty). Friday has been spent unpacking, washing and catching up on bills and emails and last night we had Paul’s father’s 60th Birthday party. Paul gave himself a rest day on Friday, but on Saturday he was back into the training with a 180 kilometre bike ride.
PS – We’re sending our best wishes to all those in the bushfire affected areas. Hold tight!